by Dan McCarthy, event manager for Venueseeker
Business intelligence (BI) is the gateway for achieving greater agility. Agility in this sense means the flexibility to make more informed decisions based on a diverse array of data outlining consumer patterns and purchasing behavior. The BI and analytics market, in fact, is projected to grow to a $20 billion industry by 2019.
How can BI be your catalyst for taking your profit margins to the next level?
The elements of a Good Business Decision.
You need information in order to make good decisions. It’s not enough to rely on an epiphany or make quasi-educated decisions based on overly-general data. With the type of BI out there today, SMBs have the ability to extract very key-specific data. The various data can be combined to formulize in-depth reports that reveal very insightful characteristics regarding demographic behavior.
This is all made possible through the proliferation of BI and analytic services and self-service software. The elements for informed decision making starts with the below four points.
BI is reliant on high-quality data. Even the most advanced BI tools won’t do your company any good if the data is faulty or less than reliable. Data is integral for understanding your customers, employees, and the efficacy of current and past decisions. Acquiring good data can be difficult for the following reasons:
- Integration issues – Data often comes from different sources. The trouble comes from integrating the data into a meaningful report. Poor data integration leads to poor overall data. A robust data integration platform is a must.
- Unstructured data – This comprises of non-numeric information, such as those acquired from emails, documents, social media posts, and other text-heavy sources. Do you have a system in place for quantifying this type of information?
- Benchmarking – To make the most educated decisions, you need to be able to compare data numbers with that of the current market, economy, competitors, etc. This was troublesome for many companies until recently. Information-on-demand type of service and software make accurate predictive analyses more possible than ever.
- Risk management – Does the data take into consideration any potential risks or regulatory guidelines? Organizations that invest in BI tools should also equally invest in risk management systems.
- Transparency – How transparent is the data? Do you know where each data set came from, when it was last updated, and how it was defined?
Just a decade ago, BI and analytics were areas relegated solely to IT and in-house data scientists. Today, with the norm of BI self-service tools, deep data analyses become possible for the layperson. There should be courses, tutorials, and a pre-established guideline in place to ensure every person on the payroll is sufficient at interpreting the data. This keeps everyone on the same page. Updated training or refresher courses should also be held at regular intervals.
In addition, there should be a standard BI environment across all departments. In other words, one department shouldn’t be using one set of BI tools and another department using another, especially if those two departments interact.
Organizations should also consider investing in a BI competency center. This is a cross-functional team whose sole purpose is to make optimal use of the data and information asset.
As just outlined, there needs to be a standard BI platform across departments. However, there should still be some flexibility to allow individual departments to utilize their own data in the way they see fit. Competency centers can help your company find the balance that best serves individual departments as well as the organization as a whole.
With modern BI tools, even entry-level staffers have access to data, whereas it was previously only accessed by data scientists and the higher-ups. The change means that business decisions need to be a more flexible and collaborative approach rather than a strict top-down approach.
With the wider spread of BI across the workforce, there will inevitably be more collaboration. This means there must be a greater trust between departments and between higher-ups and subordinates. Establishing trust begins with a shared vision. Everyone should share a common greater goal in order to carry out executive decisions and provide immediate feedback.
Organizations should also utilize BI dashboards and scorecards to track key performance indicators and execute their strategy. KPIs here can also include individual employee performance. With this information, users can identify high-performing staff members and compensate them accordingly for their stellar performance. US organizations spend $100 billion every year on employee incentive programs. This raises morale and makes members feel like their efforts don’t go unnoticed.
Strong business intelligence insight is important, but the information can’t be put to good use if the conditions for effective decision making are absent. Business agility is achieved when you have a solid information infrastructure AND a flexible and up-to-speed workforce.
Dan McCarthy has worked in the event management industry for five years and is currently an event manager for the UK-based company Venueseeker. His portfolio includes many successful event planning projects for companies across various niches, including startup conferences and trade shows. He is currently a regular contributor for his company’s blog site. Follow him on Twitter at @DanCarthy2 or LinkedIn.